Friday, August 31, 2012

"Paul Ryan's Misleading GOP Convention Speech" ("Colbert Report")

Stephen's real anger showed through a bit--a rarity for this wonderful performer--in this brilliant piece.

Moore on Clint and the GOP

Speaking to Invisible Obama last night, in a performance that seemed to have been written by Timothy Leary and performed by Cheech & Chong, Clint Eastwood was able to drive home to tens of millions of viewers the central message of this year's Republican National Convention: We Are Delusional and Detached from Reality. Vote for Us!


Recommended Doctor Who reading in preparation for tomorrow's return.

"Mitt Romney: A Human Who Built That"

The Daily Show with Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
RNC 2012 - The Road to Jeb Bush 2016 - Mitt Romney: A Human Who Built That
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogThe Daily Show on Facebook

RNC Word Cloud for Thursday

Thanks to Slate.

"They Live" at the RNC

Jezebel's caption for this photo of Gov. Scott Walker, Ann Romney, and Romney grandson: 

A Romney Grandkid Just Put on the They Live Glasses and Is Freaking Out

Essay of the Day: 8/31/12: "'W' Stands for Women, or is It Wisteria?: Watching 'Desperate Housewives' with Bush 43"

"'W' Stands for Women, or is It Wisteria?: Watching Desperate Housewives with Bush 43.” Reading Desperate Housewives: Beyond the White Picket Fence. Edited by Janet McCabe and Kim Akass. London: I. B. Tauris, 2006: 21-36.

Janet and Kim were doing a book on Desperate, and I wanted to contribute (though I ceased to be a fan after Season 2). I came up with this unusual piece in which I imagined the recently re-elected POTUS recording his own DVD commentary on an episode of Housewives, discovered years later by a future historian. (Yes, another variation on my Martian anthropology shtick.)

I have never had more fun writing something. Worth a read (available in The Ventriloquist)

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Dean Norris on "Conan"

Breaking Bad's Hank talks about the best series on television.

RNC Word Cloud for Wednesday

Thanks to Slate


Job Creators

It is true. The Republicans are job creators:

The good news is that the Romney-Ryan campaign has likely created dozens of new jobs among the legions of additional fact checkers that media outlets are rushing to hire to sift through the mountain of cow dung that flowed from Ryan’s mouth.--FOX News (!?) Sally Kohn

Pro-Choice Republicans

The Daily Show brilliantly exposes GOP hypocrisy at the RNC.

The Daily Show with Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
RNC 2012 - The Road to Jeb Bush 2016 - The Republican Platform
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogThe Daily Show on Facebook

Colbert Takes Down Rand

Two great segments on Paul Ryan's once beloved "libertarian philosopher and lost Addams Family cousin" Ayn Rand last night.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Ayn Rand & Paul Ryan
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogVideo Archive

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Jennifer Burns
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogVideo Archive

"Top 5 Fibs In Paul Ryan’s Convention Speech"

TPM has a useful summary.

The GOP lying in this campaign is the worst I have seen in my lifetime.

TPM also has a piece on the four biggest myths of the RNC

Essay of the Day: 8/30/12: "Can This be the End of Tony Soprano?"

“Introduction: Can This Be the End of Tony Soprano?” Reading The Sopranos 3-14.

The intro to my second (of three) Sopranos books, this was, among other things, a review of the state of Sopranos Studies and a rejoinder to the seminal feminist critic Sandra Gilbert for her stupid, ignorant put-down of my own earlier writing on the HBO series.
Revenge is a dish best served with cold cuts, as Tony would say.

Read it here.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

"Breaking Bad's" Hank Schrader (Dean Norris) as Xena at ComicCon

Heard on "Conan"

Jeb Bush said that it was time Barack Obama stopped blaming the economy on his brother.

Asked why he had not run for President, Jeb replied: "Because of my brother." [rough paraphrase]

Cinnabon announced that it was developing a Cinnabon pizza. They also announced that they were introducing Type 3 Diabetes. [rough paraphrase]

"GOP Platform: Bring Back DADT, Ban Same-Sex Marriage"

Adam Serwer interprets in Mother Jones.

Here's the most distressing part, according to Serwer: this platform insists, incredibly, on a cessation of "efforts to prevent gays and lesbians from being persecuted in Africa."


Another "Joss, a Creative Portrait" Revision Required

Just learned about Much Ado's first screening.

Chris Christie Fail

Happy to see that some on the right were not amused:

If someone had said the main speech would be an out-of-place exercise in autobiography and self-adulation that couldn’t have had more I’s in it if every other word had been Mississippi, you’d have figured we must be talking about the other guys’ convention, right? Was the GOP’s goal to add self-absorption to Big Government, the Arab Spring, and suppression of conservatives on the list of things they can do just as well as Democrats? If so, they’re off to a flying start. - Andy McCarthy, NRO.

Heard on "The Colbert Report"

Todd Akin, former cadaver hair model . . .

ABC Orders 'S.H.I.E.L.D.' Pilot From Joss Whedon And Marvel TV

Looks like I will need to rewrite my Joss book yet again.

RNC Word Cloud (Tuesday)

From Slate.

Essay of the Day: 8/29/12: "Johnny Carson"

“Johnny Carson.” American Icons: People, Places, and Things That Have Shaped Our Culture. Volume 1. Edited by Dennis and Susan Hall. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2006: 114-119.

I did this piece on the great, iconic Tonight Show host for a reference book Dennis and Sue put together. It was fun to research and write, though not my typical television work.

Read it here.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Congressional Ignorance

Essay of the Day: 8/28/12: "Part of Popular Culture" and "Rereading 'Seinfeld' After 'Curb Your Enthusiasm"

“’Part of Popular Culture’: The Legacy of Seinfeld” (with Sara Lewis Dunne), Preface to Seinfeld, Master of Its Domain 1-9.
“Afterword: Rereading Seinfeld After Curb Your Enthusiasm (with Marc Leverette). Seinfeld, Master of Its Domain 203-19.

I wrote the bulk of both these contributions to the Seinfeld book I edited with MTSU colleague Sara Dunne. Read the former here and the latter here.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Andrew Sullivan on Ryan

I'm inclined to believe in Ryan's sincerity on ending all abortion, but if he cannot back up his own previous positions or even explain why he has changed them, he is not a breath of fresh air; he is a halitosis-ridden belch. 

"'D'Oh!' Simpsons Stamps A Flop For Postal Service"

NPR's Weekend Edition Saturday has the (rather surprising) story.

Romney/Ryan Said They Planned to Get Ugly

I guess this proves it.

First they lie (and lie and lie) that Obama had waived the work requirement in welfare reform, and now they claim that what he didn't do was an effort to placate his base, his base being, I assume, lazy welfare recipients.

Michael Tomasky recently noted the Orwell nature of the Romney take on medicare; we see it here as well.

"Searching in the Holy Land" (Andrew Sullivan Meets Herman Melville)

Read it here.

Mitt Who?

The Economist has no idea.

“Breaking Bad’s” Anna Gunn: Skyler might kill Walt

Willa Paskin interviews her on Salon.

“'The setting itself is a character: 17 fictional TV towns with personality"

A valuable Onion AV Club catalog.

"New Mexico storeowner selling Breaking Bad "meth candy" is done when she says she's done"

Onion AV Club has the story.

Essay of the Day: 8/27/12: "Afterword: The Depths of 'Angel' and the Birth of 'Angel' Studies"

(Rhonda V. Wilcox first author). “Afterword: The Depths of Angel and the Birth of Angel Studies.” Reading Angel: The TV Spinoff with a Soul. Ed. Stacey Abbott. London: I. B. Tauris, 2005: 221-29.

The Mother of Buffy Studies and I wrote this intro for the first significant work of Angel Studies by its founder, the incomparable Stacey Abbott.

Rhonda deserves the lion's share of the credit, writing perhaps 75% of the piece.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Dreaming of Joss

Early this AM, after falling back to sleep, I had a very vivid dream in which I got to meet Joss Whedon.

He was playing a role in an unidentifiable film/TV show and was in make-up, in a car, apparently injured in an accident.

His beard was very red, and he was laughing hysterically.

He told me he couldn't wait to read my book.

OK, that last part I made up.

Essay of the Day: 8/26/12: "It's Not Television, It's Magic Realism"

“It's Not Television, It's Magic Realism: The Mundane, the Grotesque, and the Fantastic in 6 Feet Under.” Reading Six Feet Under: TV to Die For. Ed. Kim Akass and Janet McCabe. London: I. B. Tauris, 2005. 19-33.

I wrote this for one of the first volumes in Janet and Kim's pathbreaking "Reading Contemporary Television Series."

The essay combined my interest in the HBO series with my longstanding fascination with the grotesque.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Essay of the Day: 8/25/12: ""Dropping the Body: 'The X-Files,' Popular Culture, and Exosomatic Evolution"

“Dropping the Body: The X-Files, Popular Culture, and Exosomatic Evolution.” Mythen der Kreativitaet. Das Schoepferische zwischen Innovation und Hybris. Frankfurt: Verlag Otto Lembeck, 2003. 282-97.

The Ph.D. program in theology at the University of Heidelberg, Germany invited me to speak at a symposium on Mythen der Kreativitaet, and I gave a talk (only a few weeks after 9/11) that would eventually be published in this collection.
Among my targets in the essay and talk (which built on "The Departure of the Body Snatchers" essay) was the transhumanist performance artist Stelarc, with whom I would later teach at Brunel (2006-2008).
When the original program draft was released my name appeared alphabetically just before someone named Stanislaw Lem, who would, alas, end up cancelling because of health issues. It would have been grand to meet him.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

"Mitt Romney Could Have a Harem if He Wanted, Insists National Review"

Gawker reports on an insane Kevin Williamson piece on National Review that insists that the Mittster should get all women's votes.

The Comic Stylings of Paul Ryan


An illuminating report on NPR's ATC yesterday on the history and difficulties of the NC-17 rating. Listen here. Read it here.

The Heathrow Adjudication and Other Excellent Entries in the Fake Robert Ludlum Title Contest

Brilliant and hilarious. Read it on Slate.

In the piece, Dana Stevens tells the following story about Salman Rushdie engaging in Ludlumization:

Reading your recent challenge to create a Ludlum-style movie title, I was reminded of the late, great Christopher Hitchens’ passage in his biography on this very topic. Apparently one night Hitch and his colleagues challenged their close friend Salman Rushdie to state what a Shakespeare play would be called if Ludlum had had the naming of it.
In Rushdie's hands, and with only a few seconds to think about it, Hamlet becameThe Elsinore Vacillation. Challenged with Macbeth, Rushdie apparently again stepped up with The Dunsinane Reforestation (my personal favourite). From there, The Merchant of Venice became The Rialto Sanction and Othello The Kerchief Implication.

A New TV Show

This (from The Onion's TV listings) is the first I have heard of this new show:

America's Got Rabies

NBC 9:00 p.m. EDT/8:00 p.m. CDT A Tennessee woman who was bitten by her neighbor’s dog must convince the judges she deserves to stay in the competition.

Essay of the Day: 8/22/12: "'The X-Files'" ("50 Key Television Programmes")

“The X-Files. 50 Key Television Programmes. Ed. Glen Creeber. London: Arnold, 2004. 242-46.

The second of four entries I did for Glen Creeber's book.

Read it here.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Essay of the Day: 8/21/12: "'Twin Peaks'" ("50 Key Television Programmes")

Twin Peaks.50 Key Television Programmes. Ed. Glen Creeber. London: Arnold, 2004. 222-26.

The British television scholar Glen Creeber assembled this delightful collection. I ended up doing four of the entries, this and the next three "essays of the day."

Read it here.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Great Stories

Great stories come to those who can tell them. 

The Official Guide to Legitimate Rape

Jezebel offers it (in the wake of the Akin idiocy).

The Return of Andrew Sullivan

After all the turmoil of the last two weeks, it's good to have the always clear-headed Andrew Sullivan back from vacation.

Four must reads:

Paul Ryan's Zombie Reaganomics

Dispatch From A Parallel Universe

The Avengers "Firefly" Style

Essay of the Day: 8/20/12: "Rooted in the Absence of Place"

“Rooted in the Absence of Place: The Odyssey of Loren Eiseley.” Art, Science, and Morality: Creative Journeys. Ed. Doris B. Wallace. New York: Plenum, 2005. 1-18.

This would be my contribution to festschrift Doris would assemble to honor her late, great husband Howard Gruber.

It is now part of Faith in the Distance.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

"‘Hey Girl’: 12 Best Tweets From Paul Ryan Gosling Twitter Feed"

The Daily Beast has a selection

My favorite:

Hey girl, you look so cute when you're losing your reproductive rights.

Essay of the Day: 8/19/12: "'The X-Files." "Conspiracy Theories in American History"

The X-Files.Conspiracy Theories in American History: An Encyclopedia. Ed. Peter Knight. Vol. 2.
Santa Barbara: ABC Clio, 2003. 743-45.

One of several occasional pieces I would do on The X-Files in the wake of Deny All Knowledge.

You can read this here.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

"Paul Ryan’s Irish Problem"

Historian John Kelly's must-read historical perspective on Paul Ryan in The Daily Beast.

"Mitt Romney’s `just trust me’ campaign"

Greg Sargent on The Washington Post's "Plum Line":

In one sense, Romney is throwing down the gauntlet before the news media. He is betting that the media will either fail to hold him accountable for his refusal to share basic info about his finances and policies with the American people before they choose their president -- or that those efforts won't matter, because the public simply won't be informed enough either way to know the difference or just won't care at all. In other words, Romney is betting on media incompetence -- its inability to inform the public -- or on voter apathy, or on a combination of both, to allow him to skate through.

Essay of the Day: 8/18/12: "Prehistory" ["Teleparody"]

“Prehistory.” Teleparody: Predicting / Preventing the TV Discourse of Tomorrow. London: Wallflower, 2002: 1-4.

My explanation of what we (and our contributors) were up to in Teleparody.

Read it here.

Read the entire book here.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Nitrous Oxide

io9 has an interesting "secret" history of laughing gas.

I have been interested in nitrous oxide for some time--ever since I had an out-of-body experience on it in a dentist's chair in Jacksonville, FL in (I think) 1979.

David Simon Slams the Mittster

The Wire creator has had it up to here.


New Telegenic (first in months) up. Read it here.

Rage Against the Machine vs. Paul Ryan

A fascinating rock v. politics debate.

When Ayn Rand and Johnny Carson collide

A really brilliant piece from Lawrence O'Donnell.

When Ayn Rand and Johnny Carson collide


The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell posted this on their website.

Essay of the Day: 8/17/12: "Review of Californication and Cultural Imperialism"

Review of Californication and Cultural Imperialism: Baywatch and the Creation of World Culture, edited by Andrew Anglophone. Teleparody: Predicting/Preventing the TV Discourse of Tomorrow. London: Wallflower, 2002: 40-45.

One of the original "teleparodies." I have told the story of this, my most unusual, book here.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Checking in with "The Onion"

Just a sampling of headlines from the current issue of "America's Finest News Source":
US Water Polo Team Defects To Croatia In Search Of Better Water Polo Life OSN GOOMF

Man Thanks God He's Not Sexually Attracted To Children

OPINIONIt Would Be An Honor To Serve My Country, Return With PTSD, Sit On A Mental Health Care Waitlist, Then Kill Myself

Paul Ryan was, of course, in the news:
Ryan Begins Attacking Romney's Record As Massachusetts Governor
Paul Ryan Wondering If He Should Have Told Romney About This Guy He's Dating
And the Area Man and Area Woman were, as always, busy:
Local Man Can Finally Take 'Buy Socks' Off To-Do List



Cats are ruthless  killers, new research shows.

A wild kitty who adopted Joyce and I back in Jacksonville (very early in our married life) came scratching at our apartment door one night, and when we answered we found she had brought us a freshly-killed squirrel in her mouth. Generously sharing her dinner with us. We declined.

And then this: listen to Roy Blount's story on Wait, Wait (in response to a question about the cats are ruthless killers news) about a feline leading a double life. Follow the link above, scroll down to Limericks, and then advance to the 3:45 point.

Essay of the Day: 8/16/12: "Intro" and "The Genius of Joss Whedon"

(with Rhonda Wilcox). “Introduction.” Fighting the Forces: What’s at Stake in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Boulder, CO: Rowman and Littlefield, 2002: xvii-xxix.
“The Genius of Joss Whedon.” Afterword to Fighting the Forces: What’s at Stake in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Boulder, CO: Rowman and Littlefield, 2002: 251-56.

These were my two contributions (the first written with Rhonda V. Wilcox) to the collection of essays Rhonda and I did on Buffy the Vampire Slayer (the one that started it all).

Fighting the Forces is still in print. Order it from the Whedonverses Bookstore.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Essay of the Day, 8/15/12: "Like Light: The Movie Theory of W. R. Robinson"

“Like Light: The Movie Theory of W. R. Robinson.” In Seeing Beyond: Movies, Visions, and Values. Edited by Richard P. Sugg. New York: Golden String Press, 2001: 346-63.

Dick Sugg lead the way in putting together this festschrift devoted to my dissertation director at the University of Florida. My piece praised Robinson but he did not come out of it unscathed.
Read it in The Ventriloquist.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

An Onion Headline

State Of Texas Executes Child With Adult's Mind To Even Things Out

100 Maniacal Laughs

Here's the list.

Louis CK is Very Sorry

He could have put all these sorries in a sack--if he were George Costanza.

Essay of the Day, 8/14/12: "Generation X: 'The X-Files' and the Cultural Moment"

“Generation X: The X-Files and the Cultural Moment” (with Angela Hague and Marla Cartwright). Deny All Knowledge: Reading The X-Files. Ed. David Lavery, Angela Hague, and Marla Cartwright. The Television Series. Syracuse: Syracuse U P, 1996: 1-21.

This was the intro to a collection on The X-Files, written with the book's co-editors: Jill Hague and Marla Cartwright. My major contribution was a narratological reading of "Jose Chung's From Outer Space."

Read it here.

Monday, August 13, 2012

George R.R. Martin, 'Game Of Thrones' Author, Slams Republicans For 'Voter Suppression'

Well, the GOP just lost the Game of Thrones vote.

"Our rights come from nature and God, not from government"

That's what Ryan (and Romney) claim--the former in his first speech as the VP candidate.

Melissa Harris-Perry (on Now with Chris Hayes) would angrily contest this, insisting that he would not dare say it if he was in the body of a black woman.

Despite the constitution's supposed guarantee of her equality, she pointed out, it took government--by the legislative, executive, AND judicial branches--to finally establish it.

Texas A&M Shooting Leaves "Multiple Casualties"

So I go online after watching We Need to Talk About Kevin and immediately find this headline.

What You Can Learn in Louisiana

Mother Jones takes inventory.

My favorites: the Trail of Tears brought many Native Americans to find Jesus and 

Dinosaurs and humans probably hung out: "Bible-believing Christians cannot accept any evolutionary interpretation. Dinosaurs and humans were definitely on the earth at the same time and may have even lived side by side within the past few thousand years."Life Science, 3rd ed., Bob Jones University Press, 2007

Essay of the Day, 8/13/12: "The Semiotics of Cobbler: 'Twin Peaks' Interpretive Community"

“The Semiotics of Cobbler: Twin Peaks’ Interpretive Community.” Full of Secrets: Critical Approaches to Twin Peaks. Detroit: Wayne State U P, 1994: 1-23.

This was the introduction to my first collection of essays on a television series--a book that has become a kind of classic of the field. I was quite new to television studies, and surprisingly it holds up quite well.

Read it here.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Wells, Welles, Mars

I learned, listening to NPR, that there are craters on the Red Planet named after both H. G. Wells and Orson Welles.

"Ayn Rand Joins the Ticket"

Terrific piece by Jane Mayer (for The New Yorker) on Paul Ryan and the despicable Rand.

See also this post on The Dish.

Paul Begala ended his piece on Rand and Ryan yesterday thus:

And so Romney Hood has his Friar Tuck. And somewhere in hell, Ayn Rand is cackling with glee.

Update: The Daily Beast now offers a slide show: "Paul Ryan, Mark Sanford, Ron Paul, and Other Politicians Who Love Ayn Rand."

Essay of the Day, 8/12/12: "Gnosticism in the Cult Film"

“Gnosticism in the Cult Film.” The Cult Film Experience: Beyond All Reason. Ed. J. P. Telotte. Austin: U Texas P, 1991: 187-99.

This "Essay of the Day," as well as future ones, was published in a book, rather than a periodical or online.

I wrote this on request for a book being done by a friend. It's another of my "Martian anthropologist" pieces and would, in different form, end up in Late for the Sky.

Read it here.